High White Blood Cell Count in Pregnancy | High WBC Pregnancy

High white blood cell count in pregnancy is a common phenomenon it is also termed as “physiologic leukocytosis of pregnancy”.

Factors of High White Blood Cell Count in Pregnancy

Several factors contribute to high white blood cell count in pregnancy. Hormones are the main reason such as: 

- Estrogen 

- Cortisol 

These hormones increase during pregnancy and this leads the bone marrow to produce more WBCs.

This leads us to an important question …‏

What would a High white blood cell count in pregnancy mean?

A Lot of changes happen to the body during pregnancy. High white blood cell count in pregnancy may be because of neutrophils

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that helps our bodies fight off infection. Pregnancy puts extra stress on the body that stimulates neutrophils to increase in the blood naturally.

High white blood cell count in pregnancy

Normal white blood cells in pregnancy

The average range of WBCs is 5,700–15,000 per 1 µL of blood. The high white blood cell count in pregnancy is around 13,800–19,600. Doctors regularly monitor WBCs during pregnancy to detect infection and inflammation. 

High white blood cell count in pregnancy is common due to the body changing to carry a fetus. 

A complete blood count (CBC) gives information on hemoglobin, platelets, and white blood cell count. Most laboratories will provide pregnancy-adjusted reference ranges to enable easier interpretation. 

Blood cells

Types of blood cells 

- Red blood cells (erythrocytes)

- White blood cells  (leukocytes)

- Platelets (thrombocytes)

- Plasma

Blood cells function 

- By transporting oxygen and nutrients to the lungs and tissues.

- Forming blood clots to prevent excess blood loss.

- Carrying cells and antibodies that fight infection.

- Bringing waste products to the kidneys and liver, which filter and clean the blood.

- Regulating body temperature 

The liquid component of the blood in which the following blood cells are suspended:

- Red blood cells: They carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

- White blood cells: They help fight infections and aid in the immune process.

- Platelets: These help in blood clotting. 

Types of white blood cells 

- Neutrophils.

- Monocytes.

- Eosinophils.

- Basophils.

- Lymphocytes 


Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Too many neutrophils in the pregnant woman's bloodstream may develop leukocytosis or a high total white blood cell count.

A large number of neutrophils means “Neutrophilia”

Neutrophilia is a higher neutrophil count in the blood. Neutrophilia can be the cause of High white blood cell count in pregnancy. Neutrophilia can be caused because of :

- Infections

- Inflammation

- Neoplastic processes

Too many neutrophils may develop leukocytosis or a high total white blood cell count. This could cause symptoms such as:

- Fevers

- Recurring infections

Causes of neutrophilia

Neutrophilia is your body’s reaction to an assortment of problems, from serious blood disorders to an everyday infection to a stressful day at work. Neutrophilia causes are classified as primary and secondary.

There are many causes. We can section them to Primary and secondary causes. 

Primary neutrophilia causes:

You can be born with it or it may happen because:

- Chronic myelogenous leukemia

This type of blood cancer affects white blood cells.

- Essential thrombocytosis (ET)

 This is a rare disorder in which your body produces too many platelets.

- Polycythemia vera

In this disorder, the bone marrow produces too many red blood cells.

- Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML)

 This is a rare blood cancer that affects children and happens when white blood cells don’t mature normally.

Secondary neutrophilia causes:

- Infection

- Inflammation

- Acute chronic inflammation that’s caused by rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease

- Vasculitis which is an inflammation of the blood vessels

- Injuries such as breaking a bone

- Reactions to tumors

- Reaction to medication

- Physical or emotional stress

- Smoking cigarettes

- Vigorous exercise

Symptoms of neutrophilia 

Neutrophilia doesn’t have symptoms. A high white blood cell count may be a sign of underlying conditions that may cause symptoms such as:

- High temperature

- Weakness or tired

- Feeling dizzy or faint

- Recurring infections

- Sores that don’t heal

- Swollen or painful joints

Diagnosis and Tests

How do healthcare providers diagnose neutrophilia?

Healthcare providers typically do a physical examination, looking for signs of infection, inflammation, or blood disorders. Tests might include a complete blood count (CBC). 

This test shows your total white blood cell count, and how many of those white blood cells are neutrophils.

Normal neutrophil count can vary based on many factors such as your age. A normal neutrophil level is 1,450 to 7,500 neutrophils per microliter. Neutrophilia happens when you have more than 7,500 neutrophils per microliter.

Leukocytosis happens when you have more than 11,000 total white cells per microliter.

Management and Treatment

How do healthcare providers treat neutrophilia?

You have to treat the cause, Neutrophilia isn’t a condition that can be treated. Neutrophilia may also be a sign of more serious conditions like blood disorders and blood cancer. 

Does preeclampsia cause increased WBC?

High white blood cell count in pregnancy is lower than in patients with severe preeclampsia. Whereas red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, lymphocytes, and monocytes in severe preeclampsia usually tend to be lower than in normotensive pregnancies. 


Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy. the placenta doesn't get enough blood. The patient may suffer from hypertension disorders which can occur during pregnancy.

What is the main cause of preeclampsia?

It may be because the placenta didn't develop properly as it was forming during the first half of the pregnancy. This means that the blood supply between mother and baby is disrupted.

What’s the difference between neutrophilia and neutropenia?

Neutropenia happens when your neutrophil count is lower than normal. You can develop neutropenia from infections or some cancer treatments.

Neutrophilia happens when your neutrophil count is higher than normal. 


Pregnancy is a Divine miracle. You have a tiny human created inside you. It's normal to have a lot of changes happening to your body, your mood. It's your responsibility to bring him safely and to keep your health good during this and I know it's not an easy journey.

Blood test is important Periodically during pregnancy but high white blood cell count in pregnancy is not a sign for a disease. 

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